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It’s time to bring case studies into the 21st century

Case studies (or ‘application stories’) have been a staple of industrial PR forever. Nowadays there are few opportunities to get these into third-party publications, but there’s as much reason as ever to continue writing them. They make excellent website content, which can be cross-referenced to product pages and which can be very SEO-friendly.

My main advice when writing case studies is to accept that your own website and email newsletters are their main – or only – target, and write them in a more appropriate tone of voice. If they were going into a trade magazine, of course the angle would be that a customer has chosen you as a supplier. The headlines are only ever going to be something like: “Sprocket Availability System Manufacturer Chooses Innovative Blue Widgets To Reduce Flange Count”.

However, on your own website, that seems a little cold. It also misses out on the real SEO opportunities. To see why, ask yourself what you’re actually trying to say with the story. Is it that a specific customer has chosen you? Possibly. But more likely, it’s that you want to show how you can provide something, and here’s an example of how you did it.

And guess what? That’s also what prospects are going to be searching for. Nobody will be entering a query into Google for which the headline above will be a perfect result. But they will be making searches such as: “How Do I Reduce Flange Count In Sprocket Availability Systems?” And that turns out to be what your case study is really about.

So stop worrying about trade magazines. Think about how you can turn a case study on its head to become about what you can do for a prospect. Think about what benefits you provide that are illustrated by the story. Make those the headline, and the subject of the piece. Use what the customer has done as an illustration of what you’re explaining.

That way, you’ll find that instead of lying undiscovered and unread under an obscure menu on your website, your case studies will become a real asset.

(Top Tip: there is absolutely no reason why you can’t go back and rewrite old case studies on your website in this way. While you’re there, check they link to the products they mention, and investigate if you can create links from product pages in the other direction)